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CHAPTER IV

The difference between the state of the souls in hell and that of those in purgatory.—Reflections of the saint upon those who neglect their salvation.

“It is evident that the revolt of man’s will from that of God constitutes sin, and while that revolt continues, man’s guilt remains. Those, therefore, that are in hell, having passed from this life with perverse wills, their guilt is not remitted, nor can it be, since they are no longer capable of change. When this life is ended, the soul remains forever confirmed either in good or evil according as she has here determined. As it is written: Where I shall find thee, that is, at the hour of death, with the will either fixed on sin or repenting of it, there I will judge thee. From this judgment there is no appeal, for after death the freedom of the will can never return, but the will is confirmed in that state in which it is found at death. The souls in hell, having been found at that hour with the will to sin, have the guilt and the punishment always with them, and although this punishment is not so great as they deserve, yet it is eternal. Those in purgatory, on the other hand, suffer the penalty only, for their guilt was cancelled at death, when they were found hating their sins and penitent for having offended the divine goodness. And this penalty has an end, for the term of it is ever approaching. O misery beyond all misery, and the greater because in his blindness man regards it not!

“The punishment of the damned is not, it is true, infinite in degree, for the all lovely goodness of God shines even into hell. He who dies in mortal sin merits infinite woe for an infinite duration; but the mercy of God has made the time only infinite, and mitigated the intensity of the pain. In justice he might have inflicted much greater punishment than he has done.

“Oh, what peril attaches to sin willfully committed! For it is so difficult for man to bring himself to penance, and without penitence guilt remains and will ever remain, so long as man retains unchanged the will to sin, or is intent upon committing it.

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